The Misunderstood Blockbuster: Our Review of ‘Suicide Squad’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - August 04, 2016
The Misunderstood Blockbuster: Our Review of ‘Suicide Squad’

I’m just going to say it…There’s a reason you kids out there have to read the WHOLE review and not just the rating on Rotten Tomatoes.   I’ll fully admit that Suicide Squad has some deep and I mean DEEP flaws but there is also a little bit of genius in there as it is basically a comic book movie that is a perverse and twisted mockery of all other comic book movies combined.  It’s a mess, but a fascinating and compelling one as it is either a misunderstood stroke of genius or a failed cash grab of a movie that will give us some interesting characters but nowhere near enough to justify another installment in the world of these specific characters.

In the wake of Superman’s demise, the world is seemingly a scary place since no one truly knows what to do in case another horrible entity appears intent on wreaking havoc.  In a world desperate for answers, U.S. intelligence officer Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) has determined only a secretly convened group of disparate, despicable individuals with next to nothing to lose will do because when you’re heroes are gone, you need a little bad in order to stop something truly terrifying.  However it doesn’t take long for Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and the rest of this motley crew to realize that they weren’t picked to succeed but chosen for their patent culpability when they inevitably fail.  Can the Suicide Squad resolve to rise above and die trying to save the day, something that is against their very nature, or decide it’s every man for himself?

In many ways, as much as Suicide Squad is about a team of anti-heroes, the movie itself is quite frankly the anti-super hero movie, taking a dark and occasionally even funny turn into a realm where these people are at best conflicted by the consequences of their abilities or at worst been driven absolutely mad by them.  It’s a dark comic book satire of the entire silliness of the genre itself.

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Writer/Director David Ayer leans into the genre so damn hard it’s equally laudable and laughable at the same time.  It’s a silly film, and I ultimately can’t tell if this is a problem from either direction or the ensemble cast itself because very few people involved in this project seem to have the right sense for the material.  Ayer isn’t actively trying to do any universe building, but he is reminding us that most of us are probably taking all of this a little too seriously at the same time.  This never wants to be dark and foreboding and instead it is just a nonsense ride, it almost feels like that the characters that are being established well enough in this DC Universe are the ones who know to throw a little bit of earnest camp and comedy into it all rather than take themselves all too seriously.  I suppose a lot of that comes down to not only the direction of the film but the marketing of it as well.  This film really tries too hard to throw as much as it can at the cinematic wall because in reality it just doesn’t all stick like it wants to but remains more than watchable and even kind of fun thanks to some solid performances, even when the writing in third act goes off the rails and descends into a pastiche of stuff we’ve obviously seen before.

This film is easily some of the best stuff that Will Smith has done in years as he brings his entire movie star swagger to the role of Deadshot; which quite frankly is exactly what was needed.  As one of the few characters that are genuinely fleshed out, he commands the screen and he really needed to because even though all these people are bad guys, we still need someone to care about.  Margot Robbie as the indomitable Harley Quinn is right there with Smith step for step along the way of a narrative that doesn’t always (and quite honestly) isn’t supposed to make too much sense.  Viola Davis chews the scenery exceptionally well as mysterious government agent Amanda Waller while both Ben Affleck and Ezra Miller do make some small cameos to establish things for upcoming movies.  Sadly the rest of the ensemble was either dealing with poorly written roles, or just didn’t need to be there in the first place.  With the fleeting exception of Jai Courtney’s “Boomerang” and Jay Hernandez’s “Diablo” characters none of the others really needed to be there.  Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag felt woefully underwritten and his relationship with the main villain “Enchantress” (Cara Delevigne) just felt awkward and forced as the action and events just get more and more ridiculous.SUICIDE SQUAD

To put it quite plainly, Jared Leto as The Joker just didn’t need to be there.  As he tries to mashup past performances of Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger combined with a bit of a glammed up hip hop flare…it just never works.  He’s floating around these characters because of Harley but never truly engages with them or feels a part of the bigger narrative, they could have almost cut him out entirely and we wouldn’t have missed anything.

This is a film, that when you really think about it is ultimately filled with characters that aren’t supposed to be there in the first place.  So with that I still say you should go see Suicide Squad because in spite of its deep and obvious flaws it still works as the anti-comic book movie that you can laugh at and have a little fun with alongside some incredibly strong characters that I can only hope will show up in some future DC Universe installments.

This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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